A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Glossary of terms, medicinal plants used with Chinese and Latin names, and character and place names in English and Chinese.
Being distrustful and putting up barriers to protect your feelings will only ultimately cause you pain and create more problems than it solves. Be truthful, especially with loved ones, and trust that you'll be able to work things out together if everyone's on the same page.
Positive Role Models
Ning is a model of courage, teamwork, and perseverance. She puts herself at risk to save her loved ones and her country. She helps others and lets them help her when she needs it. Kang models courage, humility, and perseverance. Their friends and family are positive models for lots of different traits. There are some villains whose motives are revealed slowly.
All characters in a fantasy world are Asian, with different skin tones, cultures, beliefs, and cuisines. An important character is in a same-sex relationship. Women hold positions of equal power and authority in civilian, government, and military contexts.
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Violence & Scariness
Real-world violence includes fighting hand-to-hand; using weapons like swords, arrows, knives, and staffs; and torture by beating. Execution methods like hanging and being trampled by horses are mentioned but not described. An adult slaps a teen on the mouth. Blood and pain from injuries are described but not in gory detail. Fantasy violence includes fighting magical and mythical creatures and beings with magical weapons, including a stabbing that mentions crunching bone and acidic, black blood flowing. A fantasy creature has some magical body parts cut out, is weighed down with heavy chains, and sunk underwater.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some mild romantic dynamics and past kisses remembered.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Older teens and adults have wine occasionally. Slightly tipsy behavior is shown once or twice, and there are no consequences.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A Venom Dark and Sweet is the second of fantasy The Book of Tea duology. Based on Chinese folklore and mythology, the story's about teens trying to thwart evil forces and restore the rightful heir to the throne. Reading the books in order is strongly recommended, since events in the second book pick up pretty much right where the first one left off. Violence in the real and fantasy worlds includes fights and torture that mention suffering, blood, and pain, but there's no gory detail. Characters are in danger from monsters in the fantasy realm, and from fire. Older teens and adults have wine occasionally. Grief from parental loss and separation is a prominent theme.
Is It Any Good?
This is a unique and vividly realized magical fantasy sequel set in an intriguing and well-developed world. A Venom Dark and Sweet continues the story with elements of political intrigue, family, friendship, and the nature of evil and more in a compelling way that keeps the pages turning.
Romance fans may be disappointed that it's mostly taken a back seat in this final installment. Teens will root for Ning as she pushes herself beyond what she thought she was capable of in order to save the people and the world she loves. The ending is hopeful and satisfying.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
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